Respect is an integral component of healthy relationships. People in healthy relationships respect each other for who they are and how they behave, not because of how they look or dress. As children enter adolescence, they desire independence and autonomy. They question and test parents' rules, and in typical families, much conflict develops. Good communication skills and consistency are necessary for parents -- especially mothers -- in order to maintain a respectful relationship with their teenager.
Mothers may earn their teenager's respect by listening -- an important communication skill. Adolescents need to feel that they are important, and by listening to their thoughts and feelings, a mother shows both care and support. Mom listening to a teenager increases her influence over him, and increases the amount of respect he may have for her.
Teenagers are not too old to have role models. When mothers have discussions with their teens, they are modeling problem-solving and communication skills. A mother who yells when upset will likely raise a child who yells. When that child becomes a teen who yells, he will lose respect for his mother when she tells him to stop yelling. On the other hand, a mother who sits and listens calmly to her teenager, then responds in an even tone of voice, will raise a teen who is more likely to listen to other people, be able to discuss problems and respect his mother.
Teenagers naturally question everything. They push limits to see how late they can stay out, and insist they are too old for mothers to tell them what to do. In order to maintain a teen's respect, Mom must clearly and calmly communicate her expectations and the consequences that will happen if her expectations are not met. She must be consistent and follow through, or she will lose her child's respect. A mother tells her son he must be home by 10. He arrives at 10:30. If she ignores the infraction, it will continue. She must say, "I know you came home a half-hour late. If it happens again, you will stay home during the football game this Saturday." The next night, her son comes home at 10:30. She must not allow him to go to the game on Saturday in order to have his respect.
Maintaining a teenager's respect is not always easy. According to the Iowa State University Extension's information on "Managing Conflict With Teens," a small percentage of teenagers become out of control and threaten violence against the family. Iowa State recommends that if your teen becomes violent, you should call the police and get yourself and other family members to safety, such as a locked room. This information is important, but it is also a worst-case scenario. Typically, mothers who are having trouble with their children as they enter the teen years may brush up on their own communication skills and maintain a healthy, respectful relationship with their teens.
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